William Downs has said that he makes art to speak the truth, and that truth is located in the human body. Drawing is Downs’s primary medium, with the figure as foundation for his compositions, and the line as his elemental form of mark making. Stories, dreams, and personal experiences enter into his compositions, which may or may not be recognizable to the viewer. Memory is a constant source of imagery, which generates newly imagined “snapshots.” The results are ambiguous, “a never-ending maze of random elements.” CAM’s 60 foot-long Project Wall becomes the canvas for his ink wash drawing, in which the artist addresses the anthropological relationships of the body to its environment, dramatically manipulating those surroundings to conform or clash with the figure within the space. Downs’s concept of space is beyond physical dimensionality, and includes mental and emotional space. Sometimes it hurts is made to awaken human feelings as they are drawn, embodied, into the world Downs has conjured into two-dimensional form.
William Downs: Sometimes it hurts is organized for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis by Wassan Al-Khudhairi, Chief Curator.